When Sarah Butler received her first NDIS package, she was not happy about some of the changes that had been made. Here she tells us what she did to challenge the changes to her plan, and gives some tips about how you can too.
Sarah speaking at the 2018 ASID conference
Going to conferences gives people with disabilities a voice. They get their chance to be heard and share their experiences. They are inclusive, accessible and everyone treats you fairly.
I used to get the funding through ADHC to attend conferences about intellectual disabilities. But when I received my first NDIS package, this funding had been removed.
I spoke to my NDIA coordinator about it on many occasions, but they said they don’t recognise a conference as eligible for funding. They told me that they could pay the registration fee for a conference, but they couldn’t pay for my flights, accommodation or any related travel.
My first step to challenge this decision was to apply for a review of my package with the NDIA.
This took a few weeks to process. A different NDIA planner looked over my request and said that it only met three out of six criteria, so I would need to take my request to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
I called the Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS) and asked for an NDIS appeals support officer to meet with me. We put in an application to seek free legal advice through Legal Aid NSW. Getting a solicitor though Legal Aid took time, but the IDRS helped me.
The Legal Aid solicitor talked to an NDIA solicitor, and then we had six weeks to submit all the required paper work.
The NDIA made me a first offer, which I rejected because I was not happy with the outcome. We continued to liaise and they made a second offer, which I was happy with and accepted.
I had to give in all the final paperwork to the NDIA once we had come to an agreement.
I was really happy with the outcome and got funding to go to the 2018 ASID conference. I spoke on a panel about the rights of people with intellectual disability. I networked with other advocates. I made great contacts who are also passionate about inclusion.
Getting this funding back into my plan was very important.
Find the right people to support you, who know you best, and who have the right knowledge and skills. This can include family, friends or solicitors. With their help you will have a better chance of receiving a good outcome.
Supply all the right documentation with as much evidence as you can, including statements of lived experience to support your application.
Do your research and look for the appeals officer that might be able to best help you get the result you want.
Be really clear about what you want changed, and why you think this change is necessary.
Published 25 January 2019
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